Monday, August 22, 2011

The Author's Hour: Morley Winograd and Mike D. Hais and their Search to Understand Millennials

If you are an author and interested in being featured on AEM in this new series called, "The Author's Hour," please send me an email ( 

Mike D. Hais and Morley Winograd are political scientists who found themselves interested in Millennials. This interest turned into two books, one of which is being published this coming September. Millennial Momentum: How a New Generation is Remaking America is their latest work. Mike and Morley sent me an advance copy last week, and I've already devoured most of it. Their statistics about higher education, as well as the conclusions they draw, are golden. In addition, their take on the Millennial generation has given me a great deal of hope, something that is hard to come by at this juncture in U.S. history.

Besides being two amazing men and superb researchers, who are they exactly? 

Morley Winograd is a Senior Fellow at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School’s Center on Communication Leadership and Policy. He served as senior policy advisor to Vice President Al Gore and director of the National Partnership for Reinventing Government (NPR) from December 1, 1997 until January 20, 2001. 

Mike D. Hais served for a decade as Vice President, Entertainment Research and for more than 22 years overall at Frank N. Magid Associates where he conducted audience research for hundreds of television stations, cable channels, and program producers in nearly all 50 states and more than a dozen foreign countries. Before that, he was a pollster for Democrats in Michigan. In addition, Mike was an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Detroit.

[These bios above were copied and truncated. For their full ones, visit here]. 

CCJ: I know a lot of my readers at AEM know who are you two are, but for those who don't know about your new, insightful book on Millennials and so forth, please share a few things about how you came to this project, how long you've know one another, and so forth. Also, what's the title of your forthcoming book?

Mike & Morley: Our new book, Millennial Momentum: How a New Generation is Remaking America (September 2011), continues the work that resulted in the publication of our first book entitled Millennial Makeover: MySpace, YouTube and the Future of American Politics (2008).  Both books flow from our fascination with and optimism about the impact members of the Millennial Generation, Americans born between 1982 and 2003, will have on this country.  We believe that the generational cycle theories of William Strauss and Neil Howe, detailed in their books, Generations (1991) and The Fourth Turning (1997), have enormous powers to both explain US history and to predict what’s ahead for the nation. When we first read those books two decades ago we decided to apply the generational frame work to an arena in which both of us had great interest and experience—politics.   Using Mike’s background in survey research and political polling and the generosity of  his former employer,  Frank N. Magid Associates, the world’s leading news and entertainment market research and consultation firm, we were able to empirically test the validity of Strauss and Howe’s theory using rigorous survey research methodologies. Our success in accurately forecasting the results of the 2008 election in our first book, which was written more than a year before Barack Obama was elected president, clearly bore out the usefulness and accuracy of generational theory in understanding American politics. In our newest book, we use both Magid and Pew Survey Research center data to  predict the trajectory of American life over coming decades in areas such as government and politics,  education and the workplace,  family life and religion, and even  entertainment and sports.   

It all began in the late 1970s when I [Morley] was the Chairperson of the Michigan Democratic Party and I [Mike] was a political science professor at the University of Detroit with an interest in political polling. We met at the HQ of the Michigan Democratic Party on Jefferson Avenue in Detroit and a lifelong friendship and partnership began. Perhaps our first major success as a team was in 1982 when we used polling to devise a strategy based on appealing to moderate ticket splitting voters in Detroit and its suburbs to help elect Jim Blanchard as the first Democratic governor of Michigan in more than two decades. A year later, I [Mike] began a 22+ year career with Magid. Meanwhile, Morley began a journey that took him to the top marketing echelons at AT&T and positions as the head of Al Gore’s reinventing government efforts during the Clinton administration, and the leadership of the Telecom Management program at USC’s Marshall School of Business. We moved to Southern California in the early 1990s and when we both retired about 15 years later, our joint writing career started.

CCJ: I have always had an interest in generational differences, too. It was something I studied when I was working on my Ph.D. at Brown. Of course, I was not carrying out research as a political scientist, but I understand your angle, and it's fascinating. 

What do you think are the most distinct things that define the Millennial Generation?

Mike & Morley: The most distinctive aspect of the Millennial Generation is its strong belief in taking collective action primarily at the local level to solve national problems [my emphasis]. The generation’s unique background leads it to take on challenges by combining pragmatism and idealism.   Like 'civic' generations before them, Millennials are optimistic about the future because they believe they can change what isn’t working and build new institutions that will work better than existing one have.  While many older people focus on the generation’s facility with new technology, particularly social media, they often fail to realize that the Millennial Generation’s focus on sharing and searching for group consensus is creating a brand new way to take on society’s challenges and address them and is, in fact, it’s most important characteristic.

Demographically, Millennials are the largest and most diverse generation in American history. There are now about 95 million Millennials, 10 million more than Baby Boomers and twice as many as Generation X. Forty percent of Millennials are non-white—African-American, Asian, Hispanic, and people of mixed race. About one-quarter of American adults are now Millennials. At the end of this decade, when the youngest Millennials become adults, more than one-third of US adults (36%) will be a Millennial. Any generation with these numbers cannot help but shape American life for decades.

CCJ: Your book tour is beginning soon. What cities will you be visiting? 

Mike & Morley: We wrote both of our books primarily to explain the Millennial Generation to older generations and make them aware of the possibilities and promise of this generation. We are therefore very pleased to be invited to a number of forums in September and October to talk about the book and its message.  Key events include:

September 7, 2011. USC’s Annenberg School’s Center for Communication Leadership and Policy will host a lunch time discussion on campus at the Tutor Center of the book’s message about the 2012 election. 

September 15, 2011. The DC based think tank, NDN will formally launch the book’s publication with a noon event at their headquarters in DC at 729 15th St. NW, DC 20005. 

September 16, 2011.  We will have the rare privilege of talking about Millennial Momentum at Busboys and Poets, 14th & V. St. Washington, DC.

September 20, 2011. We visit the Houston area, after a private book party with friends and family in Detroit over the weekend, to speak to Millennials and their impact on non-profits and religious organizations at B’Nai Israel Temple in Galveston, TX and the Brazos book store in Houston, TX. 

September 22-28, 2011. will be spend in Southern California, talking about the book on Larry Mantle’s Air Talk from 11:30 to noon on KPCC, Los Angeles as well as book parties in Los Feliz (September 24)  and La Jolla (September 28). 

October 1, 2011. We return to DC and to one of our favorite book stores, Politics and Prose for a 1 PM event. 

October 4, 2011. We participate in a panel at the Manhattan Institute at St. Francis College, Founders Hall from 6 to 8 PM. 

October 6, 2011. We speak at an evening event at the Eagleton Institute at Rutgers University from 6:45 PM until 8:30. 

The following week will be spent in the Boston area with events planned at Harvard, Tufts and a special reception with our friends at the blog site, The Next Great Generation. 

October 20, 2011. We return home to Los Angeles for a book signing at Vroman’s in Pasadena, named the nation’s number one independent bookstore. 

All of these events and more are noted on our calendar on the book’s website,

On that note, stay tuned for the next interview questions. I'm looking forward to meeting Mike and Morley in Galveston in September, and I hope that some of you are able to make it to their talks across the country. 

Mike and Morley in NYC


One Who Survived said...

1. First an Aussie "good on ya" to Mike and Morley for your good work on an important development in recent and current history.

2. Re: "Demographically, Millennials are the largest and most diverse generation in American history."

"Largest" is numerically incontestable, but "most diverse" is essentially contestable, because it depends on what "demographic" qualities you choose to acknowledge as significant. You have assumed a priori that putative qualities such as "race" - another essentially contestable concept, subject to myriad arbitrary redefinitions (eg "one drop of Negro blood makes you a negro!") - are more significant indices of demographic "diversity" than less easily "measurable" ones.

Personally I wonder how much real "diversity" there is among the MINDS of the Millenials, in particular vis a vis their historical consciousness. If so-called "Whites" and "Blacks" and (don't even get me started on this VERY arbitrary term) "Hispanics" (as if Puerto Rico were the same culture as Mexico!)...

...sorry for the digressions, as I was saying, if the majority of Millenials of so-called different "races" generallY SHARE the same omnibus ignorance of ALL civilisations prior to their own generation - all of them equally ignorant of Ancient Rome as well as of the Moorish scholars who collaborated with Europeans in Spain's golden age - then how do their putative "races" make them truly diverse?

How many Millenials of ANY "race" really know, or give a damn, about belonging to a seamless web of the ancient (and hopefully continuing) civilisations of their ancestors? Or regard themselves as the present link between ancestry and posterity, bearing obligations to the dead AND the yet unborn, to preserve the best legacies of the former for the sake of the latter?

THIS kind of thinking transcends the capacities of "social media"; social media might be useful for such ways of thinking (generationally), but it's not enough per se. And personally I regard this as the Achilles Hell of the Millenial Generation (as well as of the prior two generations!), their common denominator of ignorance of, and indifference toward, other generations, especially those perceived to be "remote" in time.

How can any generation positively "influence" future ones, if they have little or no interest in (or at worst, contempt for) prior generations? Owen Barfield called that way of thinking, "Chronological Snobbery", the superstitious belief that the present generation is categorically "more intelligent", "better educated", "more informed", "more enlightened" than any prior ones. But Hitler's generation disproved that when 20th century Germany, the most philosophically sophisticated, most technologically advanced, and otherwise most "progressive" country in the world, acutely reverted to barbarism. As America is on the edge of doing as well, today, with even higher technological means of barbarism than the Nazis ever dreamed of.

One Who Survived said...

Here's a blistering anti-establishment essay on what is conventionally called "Diversity", in the Chronicle of Higher Education (Good on 'em for publishing it!), titled, "Love Me, I Celebrate Diversity":

Best paragraph, one that my semi-hero Karl Marx would enjoy:

"I get the message that driver is trying to convey: "You in that old car behind me. I am morally superior to you because I celebrate diversity, and, therefore, my wealth is deserved, as is your poverty." Somehow I doubt there is much diversity in her gated community, or her kids' school. I wonder if she thinks good neighbors come in all classes, too?"

One Who Survived said...

One more note - for today - about "diversity"...

..."Diversity" is NOTHING NEW! It's as old a Civilisation, and it's inseparable from Civilisation!

Among my several vocations, I'm a numismatist, a scholar of coins and their histories. One of my recent acquisitions is a coin minted by, and portraying the diademed bust of, "Soter Megas" - whose personal name was Vima Taktu - the Emperor of the Kushan Empire in c. 80-90 AD.
The coins of his reign are inscribed in Greek, "Soter Megas", meaning, "Great Saviour", very similar to how North Korea's first leader Kim Il Song is regarded as a god, and his son Kim Il Song is the son of a god.

I would bet a thousand Aussie Dollars (but not my entire fortune) that none of Cryn's readers, including Morley and Mike, have ever heard of the Kushan Empire. (But I acknowledge a SMALL chance that Morley and Mike know about it, that's why I bet 1,000 dollars but no more! ;-)

Here's a map of the Kushan Empire: ...

...and I WOULD bet ANOTHER thousand dollars, that neither Emperor Obama nor Secretary of State Clinton - who are currently waging illegal wars upon those lands - have ever heard about the Kushan Empire!

Anyway, what does the Kushan Empire have to do with "Diversity"?

Simple answer: The Emperors of the Kushan Empire WERE MULTICULTURAL AND RELIGIOUSLY HETERODOX! They were fluent in (the ancient forms of) Farsi (Persian) AND Greek, AND their local dialect of Hindi! As for religion, they acknowledged ALL gods (including the God of the Jews and/or of the new sect of Nazarene Jews, followers of Jesus) as worthy of respect. They, and the denizens of their empire, were a mix of cultural Persians/Zoroastrians, AND Greeks (the First Kushan Emperor's Greek title "Soter Megas" was inspired by a mixture of Alexander the Great and the last Persian "King of Kings"), AND various kinds of Buddhists and Hindus!

All a beautful mess of cultures and religions, in what is now Pakistan and Afghanistan and northern India, around year 80 AD when Jesus' Apostle, Saint Thomas, visited that region as an old man, founding the first Christian church in the East Indies.

Oh, but now suddenly in the early 21st century, a (powerful, yet truly small and ultimately insonsequential) handful of American and European bureaucratic-"academics" arrogantly and hubristically believe that THEY are the PIONEERS of "MULICULTURALISM"? As if it's something NEW?

HA! No. The "cutting edge" of "diversity" is Civilisation itself, and it's thousands of years old.